I was busy getting ready for a committee meeting, and my cell phone rang.  As I answered, it was Bill Patterson, one of our missionaries and a long-time friend.  It was a blessing to speak with him, but then the blessing went through the roof.  “I’m here in Tepoztlan with Luis Rojas, and he would like to speak with you,” he said.  Luis Rojas.  Someone you’ve never heard of but one of my heroes in the faith.  A humble small-town Mexican pastor I met, taught, and served with during my family’s early years in Mexico.  As we spoke for the first time in I can’t tell you how many years, tears came to my eyes.  It was the voice, the graciousness, and the simple humility I remembered.  And I remembered that day as well.  January 19, 1986.  The day my father, friend and coworker Mike Patterson, and I visited Luis in his home village.  The day mob violence broke out there against the gospel he preached, and we were held hostage while plans were made for our execution.  The day they stoned Luis, and he, even though bloodied and severely injured, thanked them for allowing him to suffer for his Savior and preached the love of the gospel to them.  The day the few believers in the village came and stood around us, facing the mob, and laid their lives on the line for our safety.  The day of God’s miraculous intervention and deliverance from what I was sure was the end for us.  The day I saw courage that matched anyone in Scripture as Luis refused the aid to leave the village, even in the face of the continued death threats, because that was his home and the place God had called him to reach.  The day God united Luis, Mike, my father, and me in a fellowship of suffering that I have a hard time putting into words.  And now over 34 years later, we were talking about that day once again.  It was only about 10 minutes or so, but what sweet long-distance fellowship it was!  Then a few days later his letter came, mailed by Bill when he got back to the States.  I have the letter sitting by me right now.  I can’t read it without tears coming to my eyes again.  Words of gracious gratitude and a testimony of faithfulness to the Lord’s service.  It is a letter I treasure and will keep in a special place.  He closed it by saying he would never forget me.  I’ll never forget you either, my brother Luis.

So that’s this pastor’s heart today: full of memories, gratitude, and a fresh commitment to stay true to God’s calling.  Thank you for letting me share it with you.